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UNited, UNified, UNique he stands

Richard Ashcroft has mutated into his third musical incarnation by moving to the American land of far, far away, and assembling a complete new band. All together the party shall be known as RPA & The United Nations Of Sound. Great embroidery to show their vision too.

And the band lives up to the promise of its name in creating a sound that UNites the best of Richard’s musical inheritance in a UNified sound that is distinctly recognizable as well as new and UNique. Richard added a magnificent portion of Soul to his familiar, natural flow of sounds. A bit of funk too. The lyrics are in sync with his aim to UNite the UNiverse, and prove the equality of men and sounds. It’s the central theme beyond the personal.

Enjoy the anthem to announce the new era, a scream to humanity:

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The Sound of Blood Dripping

Editors keep expanding the musical imperium that rose after the release of In This Light And On This Evening. That CD was announced by the fireworked Papillon and accompanied by the impressive bonus Cuttings II. Next in line was Do You Know Love? And the most recent conquering attempt on our ears and senses is, besides the just released No Sound But The Wind piano cry (live recorded at Rock Werchter 2010), the Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool EP. Another collection of not only remixes but also new work that, in line with the Cuttings II material, moves the band further on the transcended path of mixing rock with emotional electronics.

And an amazing fifties comic video in appropriate colours to promote it:

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A vivid flow of natural love

Vivid colors. Lively landscapes. Nearby paintings by the artist called Jonsi. Compared to Sigur Ros I would say that merely the voice remains. Although at times his solo album GO does include some recognizable but uptempo transformations of a comparable kind of sounds and strings.

This is a burning flame of the love to live. An icelandic volcano of percussion, unconventional rhythms and background sounds illustrating the fascinated world perception of a Lilikoi Boy. Use ur eyes.

Visit iTunes for finegrained acoustic versions of a couple of songs.

Compare it to the frozen and locked-in desire The XX, that I also recently fell in love with.

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Just kisses, no love

Frozen desire. Absence. Distance. At the heart of the frozen crystal of robotic beats, icy guitar notes and threatening bass lines (remotely resembling Massive Attack) of the XX, there is a little spark dying to burst into a passionate fire. However, the spark remains in a lock-in situation of desiring… to desire.

Some call it the puberty perspective on the alien forms of love that grown-ups seem to live in the eyes of… puberty. I just love this new black, this new minimalist and clean wave of cold observations. These cold statements of wanting to be hot. And it’s been a while since I was officially a puber. Auto-suggestion.

Compare it to the wild and expressive liveliness of Jònsi, that I also recently fell in love with.

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They came . They saw . They played.

Tonight I went to see Editors live at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp. Although they played songs from every album, and I love them all, I find -as on album- their latest work to outshine. And especially the Cuttings II bonus.

But the concert had it all: manics, electronics, enthusiasm, base drum vs. crowd clappings, a solo moment at the piano, new songs, even skyscraping flame throwers to celebrate the escape of Papillon, but above all… the songs. But I would still love to see and hear those talented guys start upsetting the arrangements of their older songs. To match the fierce variety of sounds and paces of the newer work.

In this light and on this evening, Antwerp’s become the most beautiful place I’ve seen.

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Mastering Reality

I am not an old skool, old-time, whatever David Bowie fan. Despite my age, background, interests, whatever. Without hesitation I make this loudly known in the Church of culturally correct music experts. Got it?

Once that is known, I can still admit that he is an extraordinary artist (that’s why I already owned Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory). And that I was quite impressed by the man’s A Reality Tour. This double CD of live recordings is a fantastic collection of songs surpassing his various incarnations. What an incredible track listing!

Some songs are slightly re-arranged or re-tuned. Mostly to my pleasure. And we shouldn’t forget that the man-chameleon is destined to remain a headstrong obstructor of cheap repetitiveness. With his top notch band he also blows us away with some friendly fire. From The Pixies (‘Cactus’) and his Berlin works with Iggy Pop (‘Sister Midnight’, ‘China Girl’), and a duet with Gail Ann ‘lovely‘ Dorsey to honor Freddy Mercury (‘Under Pressure’).

Although most explicit costumes and wigs have long gone, here’s a rock star who knows how to dress properly. Mastering all levels of reality.

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R e m a k e . R e m o d e l . R e i n v e n t

2009 saw the release of ‘Omnibus’ editions of the first 2 Bauhaus albums: In The Flat Field (1980) and Mask (1981). Making me doubt whether I should buy them, despite me being a huge and old-time fan.

Unable to resist. Strangely attracted. Hope. For hidden treasures. To read backwards into history. To find what’s been hidden all of these years.
…To get neatly boxed tunes and facts. As complete as can be. Shivers.

The unreleased mixes and out-takes highlight the spontaneous side of the band. Exposing it beyond the original albums (and the extended CD releases). The little experimentations. The ever-continuous search for soundscapes and tunes. An ever-never stand-still. More variation than generally known (or accepted).

The familiar work still brightly shines in its known literate fury and musical art. Form and function recorded through a stream of consciousness. Theatrical. Drama. The daring incorporation of glam and disco in a post-punk landscape of industrial wilderness. The absolute will to be and be unlike.

The booklets are a chronological guide to the creative genesis of the albums. A fascinating bundle of anecdotes, lyrics, pictures, facts, testimonials and recording sessions. Made with great care and much research. The sound is terrific. The CD’s are packed in a sleeve that’s an adorable replica of the original album cover. Of function and form.

In The Flat Field still sounds razor sharp. Without compromise going for functional industrial art. Bauhaus 1919. With minimalist aesthetics. Form = Function. Nerves. A roar that marks the escape from the flat field, their urban home-scene. Dark Entries sent to the “Singles and Out-Takes”.

Mask took most of 1981 to become. Over various recording sessions. Rejections. New edits. To end as the unique sum that exceeds the members. With a 12 string, more sax, new synths, dub sounds, funk. Completed with a complete live gig. Already including Silent Hedges, that will appear on The Sky’s Gone Out.

I personally love those little facts like the role of Alan Moore (the sleeve note and according live introduction). I already knew about his friendship with David J, who composed the music on the lyrics of V for Vendetta.

U n d e a d . U n d e a d . U n d e a d .

Can’t wait for The Sky’s Gone Out and Burning From The Inside.

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Electrical tricks of an old fox (shine brilliant)

Brett Anderson is racing around Europe. To present his latest album, Slow Attack, that I love and described as ‘introspective chamber music‘. But, wow, his Antwerp show (at Trix) was not a slow attack, given the power, the fierceness, the electricity. A true hold-up on all of our senses.

Brett (and terrific band) started off with complete re-inventions of some slower songs, giving them a furious Suede jacket while keeping the personal intensity of the lyrics. Overflown in feedback, hyperkinetic guitar plucks, melodic bass and powerful (yet female) piano cuts. Noise. Hot. Rock.

Still, the heavier approach fluently and easily transited into fractions of (solo) stillness. Moments of complete (!) silence. Complementing voices. Emotional tension. With or without band. A heartbreaking crooner. The new Brett that we have come to appreciate so much. Although he swayed and moved like in his early Suede days.

What a pleasure! The grin on his face. The determination to conquer. Close contact with the audience. A confident artist in top shape. All of his incarnations in one concert. There are few to compete him.

This is the music that takes me to a different place. With the wild ones.

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And you? Do YOU know love?

A withheld voice for the fragile lyrics of These Streets Are Still Home to Me (version 2), a sparse piano, fuzzy guitars and disturbed electronics. A song to make the You Don’t Know Love EP of Editors worthwhile.

And on top there’s of course the title track and its remixed disguises. A bass line to celebrate New Order’s Blue Monday. Metallic voices from a Kraftwerk universe… Editors just keep taking on different skins.

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More than weather to talk about

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry had the unspeakability of their name to cope with but also commercially failed to reach a wider audience during their 80’s existence. Beyond their control because they’ve created a couple of songs that do transcend gloomy wave. But, still, their sound was quite… 80’s. A good time to re-love it.

Their Best Of told me I’m still in touch with their sound. Although its quality could use some remastering. Drums that (literally…) echo Joy Division, hesitate between human and machine, baritonesque vocals, sparkling guitars (familiar to Banshees and Bunnymen), a driving bass. A bit of March Violets (only the voice distantly resembles The Sisters). Higher than wave.

i’m so soaked to the skin

and write songs to reflect my profound perceptions

you want to talk about the weather

and write such poppy dreariness